The automotive reality-styled series “Fast N’ Loud” was centered around Richard Rawlings, the businessman, entrepreneur and owner of the automotive shop Gas Monkey Garage in Dallas, Texas. Besides Richard, the show features a team of experienced mechanics and car experts who specialize in repairing old and run-down cars into jaw-dropping metal beasts to make a profit. The series mainly concentrates on car restoration with thematic skits, occasional drama, and clashes among the cast members. It premiered in June 2012, and became highly popular among car enthusiasts who enjoy breath-taking, and drastic and dramatic transformations. However, after running for 16 seasons, the show was canceled in 2020, surprising many fans. Even though the show’s popularity and reach decreased as it continued, it still had a relatively large, loyal fan base. So, what happened to the series, and why was it canceled? Let’s take a look!
“Fast N’ Loud” and the Cast
The show was filmed at Gas Monkey Garage, a custom shop specializing in customizing classic and hot-rod cars for domestic and foreign markets. Richard launched his shop in 2002, eventually becoming one of the most well-known worldwide, thanks to the “Fast N’ Loud” series. Talking of his employees, or cast members during the 16 seasons, several cast members exited the show for personal reasons; the best known include KC Mathieu, Aaron Kauffman, Kurt Busch, Christie Brimberry, Chris Smith, and Tom Smith. Besides the regular cast, the show featured Richard’s long-time friend, entrepreneur and car enthusiast Dennis Collins, as well as other specialists, who occasionally chimed in to give a unique touch in some areas, such as the holster Yu-Lan Haiso Martin, better known as Sue. Interestingly, Richard’s crew usually spent 25 to 30 days transforming a car, which is awe-inspiring, as such restorations as they performed would usually take several months to complete. Still, given their super-organization, they were able to do it for the TV show, including finish, paint, and interior.
Richard said: ‘That’s a lot of planning. When we take a project, we plan out everything, put it on paper, and if it works out mathematically, I find the car. Then we order every single part and don’t start the project until every part is in the house.’
The series have spawned several spin-offs, such as “Misfit Garage’ and “Fast N’ Loud: Demolition Theater.”
Who is Richard Rawlings?
Now a household name, Richard barely needs an introduction, as he’s made a name for himself as a creative and intelligent entrepreneur and mechanic in the automotive community. He rose to fame after landing his “Fast N’ Loud” series, which not only brought him popularity, but catapulted many of its cast members and his brand and shop to world-renown.
The Gas Monkey Giveaway is BACK 🔥 This time around, our 1968 'Thomas Crown Affair' Mustang v2 is up for grabs. $1 = 1 entry to win.
— Richard Ray Rawlings (@RRRawlings) August 2, 2022
He was born on 30th March 1969, in Fort Worth, Texas, USA. Richard developed an interest in cars at an early age, and as he grew-up, his love for metal beasts only grew. After collecting enough money, he bought his first car, a Mercury Comet 1974, and continued buying vehicles thereafter. Richard would purchase a car, make a few adjustments, fix or restore it, and then sell it for profit, which eventually became the basis of his business. Growing up, he’d wanted to become a police officer, and at the age of 19, he even enrolled into a police academy.
Interestingly, his business wasn’t successful in the beginning, as like many others, he struggled to finance his projects. In order to pay for the restoration and car parts, he worked various other jobs, including as a firefighter, law enforcement officer, and paramedic. Richard first tested the entrepreneurial waters in 1999, when he founded the advertising company Lincoln Press. He founded Gas Monkey Garage In 2002, and three years later, sold his Lincoln Press and focused solely on developing his custom automotive shop.
How did “Fast N’ Loud” come to life?
While many believe that Discovery Channel producers approached Richard Rawlings and offered to do a show in his shop, that isn’t true. In his interview with Joe Rogan on his popular podcast, Richard revealed that he had the idea to do an automotive show, and began pitching it to various networks in 2004. He further explained how he came up with the idea for the show, saying that he was watching the automotive shows that were on TV at the time, and realized that these shows were for the male audience only, as he noted that his wife and his kids never watched them. He said: ‘The shows that were on were too much bravado. I dug it and my friends also. I thought they were missing a big chunk of the market, so if you could tone down that part and still have a cool brand and get the moms and kids to watch it, hopefully, it would be a lot more successful. So that’s what I did!’
After hearing ‘no’ year after year, he finally got the green light from the Discovery channel in 2012. Talking of his background in automobile knowledge, and launching the shop, he said: ‘I’ve never really been the full fabricator. I understand everything and how it works, but I’m probably more of a business guy. So, I was able to go out and hire good guys to do the fabricating stuff! I had the car knowledge and the eyeball for what was good!’
What happened to “Fast N Loud”?
From its premierd, “Fast N’ Loud” was an immediate success, and subsequently ran for 16 seasons for good reasons – it was interesting to watch and had an optimal viewership rate. The last season premiered in March 2020, and was nothing less than successful as those before! So why was it canceled? In December 2020, Richard guest appeared on Joe Rogan’s podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and Joe went straight to the jugular, asking what was going on with the series. Richard disclosed: ‘“Fast N’ Loud” is no more. I have exited Discovery, and I am a free agent. We’re gonna be doing some incredible things in 2021. It was a perfect storm, and it was time for me to expand. I got to the top of that mountain at Discovery, and there wasn’t anything else for me to do there.’
The successful Gas Monkey also shared details about creative challenges they encountered; saying: ‘There’s only so many times you can buy a car, fix a car, and sell it. And it was time to make some changes and make it more fun.’
Judging from his interview, Richard seemed relieved that the show ended, as he wanted to venture out on some other projects. He talked about launching a podcast, and being part of many other shows, which he couldn’t do while filming “Fast N’ Loud.” You may ask why? Well, as it turned out, the contract he signed with Discovery Channel prohibited Richard from saying anything negative about the show and the network, and the consequence for doing so might cost him up to a $25,000 fine. Furthermore, he disclosed that he had initially signed off all media, so Discovery controlled what he could do and post on social media.
Although Richard offered a reasonable explanation for the show’s ending, many fans weren’t satisfied, or convinced with his reasoning. Many fans noted several other issues with the show, which at the time had been on for years, and in their opinion, they might have influenced the show’s cancelation. For example, there was a rumor that the show got the boot 18 months before Richard announced it, which started with a fan’s comment that read: ‘I had a friend who worked on the production crew for ‘Fast & Loud’. I remember when he got laid off because the show had ended. He told a few friends because he was obviously out of work. But we that knew pledged not to reveal it on our social media. It was well past its expiration date anyways.’
Another theory is that the show’s quality decreased after main mechanic Aaron Kauffman left the shop. The series took on a ‘corporate’ feel, and drastically changed over the years, that it ceased to be the show many had come to love. In addition, many believed that all that drama on the show, and high employee turnover affected the show’s popularity, as many still wanted to watch the restorations minus the controversy and interpersonal conflicts.
If you’re familiar with the show, you might know that several employees or cast members were sacked from the series, while others chose to exit. Over time, “Fast N’ Loud” became synonymous with controversy, and Richard also gained a reputation as a bad-tempered, irritable, and rigid employer. Many fans began to perceive him as a money-hungry businessman, who only had eyes for the greenbacks, and couldn’t care less about his crew and how he treated them.
What was the real reason the show was canceled?
Despite numerous theories, the most probable is that the show concluded because Richard wanted to branch out and do other things. Could Discovery have continued the show without Richard? Well, not really! Even though we often see characters being replaced on various TV shows, that was not an option with “Fast N Loud” as Richard was the central member, and also the owner of Gas Monkey Garage where the filming took place! Simply, no Richard, no show!
Suppose you carefully listen to his interview with Joe Rogan – it’s evident that even though he really enjoyed working with Discovery, there were some underlying issues with the production or network. Furthermore, the clause about his social media seemed to have played a significant role in his decision-making, as it restricted him heavily, and let’s be honest, Richard doesn’t seem like a person who likes any restriction. This meant he couldn’t even take a photo of a restored car and post it on his social media without Discovery’s approval.
When Richard signed the contract in 2011, the clause about social media might have seemed irrelevant, but in the last decade, the role of social media has become monumental for advertising and upgrading business. With time, Richard realized that he’d made a grave mistake, and begged Discovery to give him those rights, but they refused. Even Joe, in the interview, said that it made no sense because Richard’s posting about the show on his social media with millions of followers would only have boosted the show and its reach, and Richard said: ‘Yeah, one would think so!’
Is Gas Monkey Garage still running?
The answer is yes! Even though the show is over, the garage is still running, and its employees are doing their usual projects, fixing, renewing, buying and selling cars. Richard also has his merchandise line, which features apparel, stickers and hats.
Since he parted ways with Discovery, he’s been very active on his YouTube channel entitled “Gas Monkey Garage and Richard Rawlings,” which has nearly a million followers. Partnering with HB Fuller and Gorilla Pro, in July 2022, Richard launched the new YouTube series “Gas Monkey Builds,” which features himself and his crew building new and unique vehicles, such as the ultimate service work truck which is their first project.
In addition to participating in numerous motor events, the business seems to be moving forward. In May 2020, he organized the first ever Tacos’ N Tires event at his Gas Monkey Garage, for fans who wanted to meet him, sell him their car, eat tacos, and drink beer with him. A true entrepreneur, Richard often throws fantastic giveaways for his fans – he recently gave away $200,000.
As mentioned previously, Richard has dipped his toes in other avenues, including the nightlife field, as he founded a chain of bars, live music venues, and restaurants. In addition, in 2019, he launched his Gas Monkey line of energy drinks. However, according to the latest reports, he mainly focuses on his garage, and often participates in related shows, especially automotive events.
What Happened to “Garage Rehab”?
When a show is as successful as “Fast N Loud,” it’s apparent that it would spawn spin-offs – one of those is “Garage Rehab.” The series was launched in 2017 and features garage make-overs. The show’s main stars are Richard Rawlings, Chris Stephens, and Russell Holmes, who take mechanical shops in need of updating, and invest money into restoring them into functional garages. The show ran for two seasons, and was canceled in 2019; what happened?
While many might jump the gun and point out that Richard’s disagreements with Discovery could have influenced the decision to end the show, the truth is far from it. First, the show ended in 2019, a year before he officially parted with Discovery. Second, although the show attracted fans in its first season, it had some flaws, and fans were too savvy to let it just slide. One of the aspects many took issue with was the show’s focus on esthetics. The show’s primary goal is to restore a dilapidated garage and make it functional and organized and not easy on the eye, which seemed to be what they most cared about. For example, one staff member called their shop disorganized, and the crew did nothing about it, while other shops that they restored reverted to the pre-show state in a revisited episode.
These issues led some fans to call “Garage Rehab” one of the least trustworthy shows. The fans noted that several elements of the show were visibly scripted, such as the difference in the behavior of the garage’s owner at the beginning of an episode and the end of the makeover. The crew also performed some impossible and unrealistic tasks, such as fixing up a broken-down garage for an event that is set to happen in a week or less!
“Fast N Loud” is one of those automotive series that many car enthusiasts loved watching over a beer or dinner. Even though the show ended, it still ran for a good 16 seasons, which is impressive and not something every reality show can boast about. If that’s not a testament to its popularity, what is? Then, as many have said, including Richard, ‘All good things must come to an end.’